December 04, 2007

On being awkward.

It's not like I have a penchant for being awkward. It just happens. I have come to the conclusion that this is how God intended me to be, awkward at times, able to converse decently enough at other times thereby showcasing my average intelligence. I am more eloquent when it comes to writing (really, if you have heard me talk, you would agree too), but then scrambling for post-it notes in the middle of a dull conversation just to scribble something intelligent on it seems a bit extreme to me. Plus these kinds of situations have the potential to make a passably awkward person seem like way out there! You know what I mean?

Dull conversation.

"Yes, yes, it is quite cold these days...blah blah"

Brilliant flash of words.

and then, rush, scramble, scribble-scribble and produced with a flourish, a yellow post-it note with an intelligent repartee scribbled on it - doesn't seem to be the solution to the issue.

I particularly excel at being odd especially during introductions. At the Indian store,

"Hiiiii Ramya!"

"Hi so-and-so, this is my mom. Ma, this breathlessly-happy person is so-and-so"

And then I smile. Breathless maami smiles too. Mom can't stop smiling. And the floor cracks and I fall through an endless magic pipe which takes me to the end of the world!

I wish. All that happens in the time that I imagined all that crap is that we are still doing the smiling rounds. And then mom makes a brilliant opening,

"Neenga Madrasla enga irukeenga?"

Whew! That should do the rounds at least for the next few minutes.


"Oh Mylaporeaaa?"

"Enga atha ponnu kooda anga thaan irukaa"

And so on. Meanwhile I zone off and imagine I published a novel! Gosh, that would be like a dream come true. But then, what if the book sold just one copy? Hmm...I could ask my friends and family to buy a copy, that would make it 20-25 copies maybe...need to sell at least 75 more...

I look up to see breathless maami watching me intently. So, I do the routine thing. I smile.

"Enna Ramya?"

Hmm, that didn't work. I assume an intelligent mulling look and quickly study my reflection in the glass door. Nah, that just looks like I am constipated.

My mom helpfully chips in, "Neengalum enga veetuku varanum!"

Oh, ok. We were apparently in the middle of "Enga veetuku kandipa varanum" routine.

So, I don't get it. I actually like social get-togethers (In fact I like it much more than bowling or skiing or the zillion other things that k is crazy about). And I am definitely not bored when I am discussing something interesting with the very same maami. I actually like talking to her. The problem is with the more regular, mundane conversations - introductions, casual hi-byes, overly polite invitations that both of us don't plan to keep up - that sort of thing. That's when I zone out and act all weird.

The more odd situations happen at work. Somehow cross-cultural conversations take on more vibrant colors than regular desi conversations. The other day, I walked over to a~'s cube to discuss a boring bug. I reached a~'s cube and found a~ and r~ guffawing loudly at some joke. I didn't hear the beginning of the joke (I bet it was one of those jokes that I won't "get" even if I was there from the beginning). So now do I kinda' slither back to my cube pretending I never walked over? Wait for the loud joke to end and then interrupt with my bug? Or do I hang out, acting all nonchalant - "Yeah, I don't laugh at silly jokes", maybe I can join in and laugh and it won't sound so fake?

I didn't do any of these though. I just stood there. I didn't even twiddle my thumb. Just stood there. Now you would think this is enough to put an end to the loud joke. But no! They start discussing Ipod nano. I rack my brains trying to come up with tit-bits I might have read about the ipod-nana....nope, nothing. Blank. Just ipod? Anything about Apple? Jeez! I am incapable of constructing impromptu bits of logical conversation! So anyway, an eternity later, the other guy left and I stopped trying to think of something to quote from Steve Job's commencement speech at Stanford.

For the next time, I am planning to go armed with a classic knock-knock joke. That ought to work.


SK said...

OMG!! Really funny!!! :--))
Be assured you are not alone. I suck at making small talk, I cant pretend, and say something that I dont mean, in those overly polite conv, like "this was fun, we should do this again sometime!" kind. I am better with people I know, my confident jsut ebbs.
But you write really well. :--)

Zeppelin said...

and the other person will say who's there? AND THEN? what will you say then? will you say Ramya? or like Santa or something? and drop a crumpled piece of paper as if it was a snow flake? :D

expertdabbler said...

I can totally relate to this:)
To me comfort level is everything.

Without that i can't eve smile at the other person!

Incidentally, some of my very close friends are past masters at small talk which makes me the lone guy sulking around the corner most of the times:(

RS said...

sk - :)

arun - Duh...slowly slither back to home base? :p

p~k - They should have training classes for this sorta' thing :)

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